Videogame website Polygon is no stranger to controversy, but their review of The Witcher 3 is another nail in the coffin for their credibility.
Written by Arthur Gies (a guy who holds a grudge against Sony for believing they killed Sega), their review of CD Projekt’s The Witcher 3 illustrates a major problem with not just game reviewers, but reviewers in general. I’m talking about an inability to understand the context of a story, its setting, and the history of the planet Earth when reviewing something.
For those unfamiliar with the series, The Witcher is a Polish-developed computer role-playing game based on a series of novels and short stories by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski. The world Sapkowski set his stories in is a fantasy setting, but it’s heavily modeled after North-Eastern Europe during the middle-ages. This was a time where woman were basically objects, and 99.9999% of the population was extremely white.
The Polygon review (which scored the game an 8 out of 10) took issue with the amount of nudity in the game saying, “the world CD Projekt has created is oppressively misogynist”. CD Projekt Red didn’t create the world The Witcher is set in, Andrzej Sapkowski did and he based it on what Europe was like in the middle-ages.
Newsflash, the middle ages were “oppressively misogynist”. I almost wish the Michael Crichton book “Timeline” could happen to people like Arthur Gies just so they could spend a few days in the middle-ages. These people would curl into the fetal position when history doesn’t match what they want it to in their little Twitter echo-chambers.
I’m sure I probably “triggered” someone with that last paragraph, and to them I’ll just say to shut up and go read some history books as opposed to Tumblr posts.
At the end of his review, Gies complains about not seeing a single non-white humanoid anywhere in the game. Again this is a complete bone-headed disregard to the context and history of the setting in exchange for him pushing some delusional agenda on Polygon’s readers.
This is a similar complaint uninformed people on the Internet have for The Lord of the Rings. Much like Sapkowski’s setting for The Witcher, Tolkien created Middle-Earth as a mythic pre-history for England and the surrounding parts of Europe.
Guess what? In that time period it was extremely rare to see anyone who wasn’t white in those parts of Europe. Specifically Poland and the land-locked areas of Eastern Europpe, there really wasn’t that much “importing” of people from other lands during that time. That’s why you don’t see any non-white people in The Witcher 3, not because CD Projekt are a bunch of racist misogynists as Polygon almost accuses them of.
Complaining about gameplay issues with The Witcher in a review is one thing, but completely ignoring the context of the setting to attack the game is completely something else. That’s just shoving an agenda on people who are able to deal with what happened in the past and realize that the past wasn’t the sunshine and rainbows some people want to revise it to be.
Isn’t that what people are supposed to do? Learn from history’s mistakes and move on from them? White-washing a setting and sanitizing it is revisionist history and is even more disgusting than a video game set in an “oppressively misogynist” part of history.
Reviewers of anything, be it games or movies, who either fail to understand context or chose to ignore it to push their own agenda have no business reviewing that product.
I’ll close with this. I find it very telling that Gies scored The Witcher 3 an 8 out of 10 following his rants about it being a racist and misogynist game set in the middle-ages, when the same site gave Grand Theft Auto 5 a 9.5 out of 10. I guess the strip clubs and hooker slaying in GTA5 didn’t offend Polygon enough to lower the rating and endure the wrath of Rockstar PR, who likes to “blacklist” outlets who don’t give Grand Theft Auto an acceptable rating.